Stokes Era Begins In East Carolina Basketball Friday Night

UABSPORTS.COM coach Stokes discusses a call with an official during ECU's exhibition game with NCCU.
coach Stokes discusses a call with an official during ECU's exhibition game with NCCU.

Nov. 17, 2005

GREENVILLE, N.C. --- A new era in East Carolina basketball will officially begin Friday night as the Pirates host North Carolina A&T in the season opener for both teams and officially begin the "Ricky Stokes era" at ECU. The game will be the first of three home contests to start the new season.

The Pirates enter regular season play on a high note after defeating N.C. Central in its lone exhibition game of the season this past Saturday, 67-60. Senior Corey Rouse led the Pirates with 20 points, while grabbing a game-high nine rebounds. As a junior he led the Pirates with 11 double-double performances, ranking third among Conference USA players. Rouse is the Pirates' leading returning scorer at 10.6 points per game and the nation's fourth leading returning rebounder at 10.2 rebounds a contest.

North Carolina A&T enters the game untested after electing not to play an exhibition contest. The Aggies return nine lettermen from last year's 6-24 squad that scored an overtime victory over Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion Delaware State, the NCAA Tournament first round opponent of Duke, at home, 70-66. Demetrius Guions, a 6-foot-6 sophomore guard, is the Aggies' top returning scorer at 6.2 points per game.

Friday night's encounter will mark just the second meeting between the two cross-state rivals. ECU won the lone previous meeting by 33 points, 86-53, in December of 2003. Junior guard Japhet McNeil scored 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting and handed out four assists against the Aggies as a freshman.

The Pirates will look to extend several winning streak on Friday night. Since the change of the millennium, ECU has won six consecutive season openers and 11 successive non-conference games against instate opponents at home. It has also won its last four home openers.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 o'clock inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum. The game can be heard across the 19-station Pirate Sports Radio Network or on-line at with Jeff Charles (play-by-play), Si Seymour (color) and Greg Pierce (scoreboard host) calling the action.

Tickets are available by calling the ECU Athletic Ticket Office at 1-800-DIAL-ECU or logging onto the University's official athletic website,